Why It Makes Even Less Sense Than Usual to Follow The Oscars This Year

Jan 17, 2014

It's not even a matter of "snubs."

This year's Oscar nominations got it so wrong as to make a reasonable debate about what happens, going forward, almost impossible.

Consider these people.

If there are any film critics whom you respect at all, they're on that list.

Now consider their choices for this year (and note their inclusion of the vote totals, which, I agree, are nice to have).

Now, the Academy and the critics usually wind up in different places, and that's fine. Last year, they went wild for "Amour," and the year before that it was "Tree of Life" and "Melancholia." You have to go all the way back to 2009 and "The Hurt Locker" to find a moment of final agreement, and even that year, the eggheads were crushing on a lot of foreign films, like "The Summer Hours," that nobody else saw. 

But the exclusion, this year, of "Inside Llewyn Davis" from the Oscar nominations is pretty horrible and stalls the conversation. Among the critics, it won best film, best actor, best director. It's not even nominated in any of those Oscar categories, even though they've made room for nine nominees in the best film category. 

You can sometimes explain away such anomalies with box office numbers, but "Llewyn" isn't doing any worse than "Nebraska" or "her" (although the latter will outpace it eventually).  Two of the surprises of the cumulative grosses are -- best picture nominees -- "Dallas Buyer's Club" and "Philomena." The former has double the total of "Nebraska"(and room to grow with, effectively, a second release right now on the strength of McConaugheymania) and the latter, almost triple. 

There are other less glaring orphans. Some of us thought "All Is Lost" was  a very worthy film. And then there's "Fruitvale Station" and ""Rush" (a film people really seem to like when they see it, which makes it even more of a mystery that so few people ever saw it).

But the "Llewyn Davis" shutout is borderline weird. What would I bump for it? Easy. "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a movie that will not hold it value. In fact, it doesn't hold its value all the way through the first sitting. I'm not sure what else I'd bump to get "All is Lost" in there. I've seen only six of the nine nominees. 

On The Nose today, we're going to be talking a lot about "her" and maybe also about this. 

UPDATE: I should have put my cards on the table. Were I an Oscar voter, "12 Years a Slave" would be, as of now, my best picture choice, although "American Hustle" gave me more pure pleasure.